Pennsylvania Member of Congress Tracking Report – 02.07.21

52 mins read
Graphic by Kelly Pollock.

This is a 100% volunteer effort brought to you by a handful of progressive Democrats and Independents who share a vision of an informed electorate.  We want to offer a big thank you to the Demcast and Pennsylvania Indivisible organizations who host our report and help us share it out to the residents of our Commonwealth!

Indivisible Legislative Scorecard – Update

Once this 117th Congress spends a bit more time voting on legislation we will bring you the PA Indivisible Legislative Scorecard.  The Indivisible movement is focused on four key principles – equality, justice, compassion and inclusion. Those values are reflected in legislation related to:

  • Ballot access, voting rights, campaign finance and ethics
  • Civil rights, equality under the law and addressing systemic inequities
  • Reinforcing and strengthening democratic norms, processes, and oversight
  • Addressing economic inequality

It will take us a few weeks to get this up and running, since we need to get a few votes under our belt to have a rating that conveys any useful information. We did decide that the vote this week on stripping Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments will be a scored vote. That was a vote to penalize a lawmaker for espousing views that were decidedly lacking in compassion and inclusivity, so we could not ignore that action when compiling our scorecard. 

Once we have three scored votes we will unveil the scorecard. And once the scorecard is live, you will find it here on page one of MoCTrack as well as on our new Pennsylvania Indivisible website. As Rachel Maddow so often says, “watch this space.”

Votes of Interest

Biden’s COVID Relief Package – the Reconciliation process and “Vote-o-Rama”

This week the Congress decided to go big and move fast on the Biden COVID Relief package.  While the specifics of what will make it into the bill are still under consideration, Congress is preparing to move without Republican votes by taking the administrative steps required to use the Reconciliation process. That is the procedure that allows for the Senate to pass a bill by a simple majority instead of a supermajority.  As President Biden himself has said, using reconciliation doesn’t prevent Republicans from voting for a relief package to help the millions of Americans who need it. But by using reconciliation, it means the Democrats are not going to be forced to bow before GOP demands that would make the bill inadequate to meet the needs of the moment.

Part One – The House moves ahead with Reconciliation 

House Vote on H.Con.Res. 11: Establishing the congressional budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2021 and setting forth the appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2022 through 2030

The Congressional Research Service, anticipating that this “trifecta” Democratic government would need to use the reconciliation process, updated their white paper titled “The Budget Reconciliation Process: Stages of Consideration” just this January.  The report summary explains:

The purpose of the reconciliation process is to enhance Congress’s ability to bring existing spending, revenue, and debt limit laws into compliance with current fiscal priorities and goals established in the annual budget resolution. In adopting a budget resolution, Congress is agreeing upon its budgetary goals for the upcoming fiscal year. Because it is in the form of a concurrent resolution, however, it is not presented to the President or enacted into law. As a consequence, any statutory changes concerning spending or revenues that are necessary to implement these policies must be enacted in separate legislation.

Budget reconciliation is an optional congressional process that operates as an adjunct to the budget resolution process and occurs only if reconciliation instructions are included in the budget resolution.

The CRS also provided a helpful diagram:

This bill represents step 1 in the diagram. And as the Library of Congress explains, “under current law, reconciliation bills are considered by Congress using expedited legislative procedures that prevent a filibuster.”

Vote date: Wednesday, February 3, 2021 Vote Tally: 218-212

Party Breakdown: All Republicans present voted NO and they were joined by two Democrats – Ed Case of Hawaii and Jared Golden of Maine. The other 218 Democrats voted YES.

Part Two – The Senate initiates their own Reconciliation Process

Senate Vote on a MOTION TO PROCEED with S.Con.Res. 5: A concurrent resolution setting forth the congressional budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2021 and setting forth the appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2022 through 2030

The House having passed their own version of that first step (“agreeing upon its budgetary goals for the upcoming fiscal year”, as described in the CRS white paper), it was then the Senate’s turn to get reconciliation rolling.  This being the Senate, they did not simply vote on the concurrent resolution, but had to vote on a motion to proceed.

Vote date: Tuesday, February 2, 2021 Vote Tally: 50-49

Party Breakdown: This was a party line vote with all Republicans present voting NO and all Democrats and Independents voting YES.  Our own Senator Toomey was not present, which kept this from being a tie and thus demanding the vote of Vice President Kamala Harris.

Senator Casey voted YES and Senator Toomey did not vote

Part Three – The “Vote-o-Rama” Amendment process in the Senate begins

As is typical with large bills, it is the amendment process that is the most interesting part. Most of the time, amendments offered have some bearing on the bill in question.  But since lawmakers are not yet voting upon COVID relief, and instead (as part of reconciliation) are dealing with setting “budgetary levels for fiscal years 2022 through 2030,” that is the excuse used for offering amendments for every topic under the sun. An amendment needs to receive 50% +1 (a simple majority) to pass. A tie results in a rejected amendment.

As of the evening of 02/06/21, there were 889 amendments offered by Senators. We will limit ourselves, though, to looking at only those that received floor votes.  First up are the amendments that failed. Assume that Senator Bob Casey voted NO and Senator Pat Toomey voted YES unless otherwise indicated:

  • Amdt. 1, from Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky – he wanted to wipe the text of the resolution and insert his own budget levels. This failed, 29-71
  • Amdt. 48, from Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri – he wanted to prevent relief funds from going to schools that do not open for in-person schooling. This failed, 50-50. 
  • Amdt. 53, from Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina – he wanted to establish separate reporting of COVID-related deaths of residents or staff at nursing homes. This failed, 50-50
  • Amdt. 55, from Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho – he wanted to permanently extend the tax levels of the GOP Tax Plan from 2017.  This failed, 50-50
  • Amdt. 441, from Sen. Paul – he wanted “to build roads at home instead of building them around the world.” This failed, 8-92. Casey voted NO and Toomey voted NO. 
  • Amdt. 542, from Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin – he wanted to ensure President Biden could not cancel any Mexico wall projects.  This failed, 50-50.
  • Amdt. 553, from our own Sen. Pat Toomey – he wanted to ensure that “state and local law enforcement are permitted to cooperate with Federal officials to enforce Federal law,” or, in other words, we wanted to make sure local law enforcement can keep working as an arm of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This failed, 50-50.  The Senate Republcian Communications Center tweeted out a snippet from Senator Toomey’s comment about his amendment – “SEN. TOOMEY on his amendment: It is past time to put an end to dangerous sanctuary city policies. These policies make it harder to stop illegal immigration and keep dangerous criminals off the streets. This is simply inexcusable & I urge my colleagues to help pass this measure.”
  • Amdt. 651, from Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida – he wants to stop “catch and release” (his wording) of immigration detainees and ensure the continuation of Trump’s Migrant Protection Protocols.  This failed, 50-50
  • Amdt. 770, from Sen. Mike Lee of Utah – he wanted to continue oil and gas leasing on federal lands. This failed, 50-50
  • Amdt. 782, from Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana – he wanted to keep people “convicted of a misdemeanor or felony for actions during or in connection with a riot or civil disorder” from receiving Small Business Administration funds. This failed, 49-51.
  • Amdt. 821, from Sen. Lee – as if the first amendment of the Bill of Rights doesn’t already exist, he wanted to prohibit “infringement on the free exercise of religion.  This failed, 50-50
  • Amdt. 871, from Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas – he wanted to eliminate the conventional biofuel cap during a pandemic.  This failed, 26-74
  • Amdt. 872, from Sen. Rick Scott of Florida – he wants to issue instructions that set funding levels for border security and “ensure the enforcement of all immigration laws.”  This failed, 50-50
  • Amdt. 887, from Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota – he wanted to prohibit a federal carbon tax. This failed, 50-50

The final failed amendment, number 889, was offered by Senate Minority Leader McConnell (admission – it feels good to type that). It has the mysterious designation “to improve the resolution” but no associated text yet. I infer that this was a motion to close debate, but with GOP-centered instructions. It received a vote at 5:15 AM on Friday, February 5, 2021, and it failed, 50-50.

Twenty-two amendments were approved by the Senate. Fifteen of these amendments passed with at least 70% support, and some were unanimous or nearly so.  The topics of the fifteen amendments with wide approval include:

  1. Clarifying tax jurisdictions (unanimous)
  2. Prohibiting tax increases on businesses during national emergencies (unanimous)
  3. Providing grants to bars and restaurants affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (90-10)
  4. Setting aside funds for rural hospitals (99-1)
  5. Police funding (unanimous)
  6. School funding (98-2)
  7. Vaccine administration and public awareness campaign (unanimous)
  8. Prohibiting a federal minimum wage increase during a global pandemic (unanimous)
  9. Limiting COVID-19 payments to “upper income taxpayers” (99-1)
  10. Keeping the U.S. Embassy to Israel in Jerusalem (97-3)
  11. Creating a committee “to improve the solvency of major Federal trust funds” (71-29)
  12. Maintaining our energy independence (unanimous)
  13. Creating a website about COVID relief funds (unanimous)
  14. Improving services related to domestic violence and sexual assault (unanimous)
  15. Expanded support for the hospitality, tourism, travel and convention industries (unanimous)

That leaves us with seven amendments that were approved by close votes. Assume that Senator Bob Casey voted NO and Senator Pat Toomey voted YES unless otherwise indicated:

  • Amdt. 54, from Sen. Todd Young of Indiana – he wanted to prevent “illegal immigrants” from receiving federal aid. This passed, 58-42. 
  • Amdt. 253, from Sen. Lee – he wanted to expand health savings accounts. This passed, 53-47.  
  • Amdt. 655, from Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia – she wanted to preserve “continued implementation of the consistent, clear, and functional categories and exclusions of jurisdictional waters in the Navigable Waters Protection Rule.” This passed, 51-49. 
  • Amdt. 678, from Sen. Steve Daines of Montana – he wanted to “improve relations between the United States and Canada with regard to the Keystone XL Pipeline entering the United States in Phillips County, Montana” (that President Biden stopped via executive action). This passed, 52-48.
  • Amdt. 833, from Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana – he wanted to prohibit the EPA from banning fracking. This passed, 57-43. Sen. Casey voted YES and Sen. Toomey voted YES.  
  • Amdt. 837, from Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma – he wanted to set specific terms for the relief funds going to state and local governments. This passed, 51-49.

Much as the amendments that failed were concluded by an amendment offered by the Senate Minority Leader, the amendments that passed were capped off by an amendment from Senate Majority Leader Schumer (another admission – it feels good to type that, too), number 888, with the only text available reading “in the nature of a substitute.” Much as I did with the item offered by McConnell, I infer that this was an amendment to close out debate, with Democrat-friendly instructions. Vice President Kamala Harris was brought in to break the tie, and this passed, 51-50, at 5:07 AM on Friday, February 5, 2021. 

Part Four – The House votes on the amended concurrent resolution

House Vote on Ordering the Previous Question: H RES 101 Providing for the adoption of the concurrent resolution (S. Con. Res. 5).

This was the vote wherein the House decided on the amended version of the concurrent resolution that the Senate provided after the Vote-o-Rama.

Vote date: Friday, February 5, 2021 Vote Tally: 220-210

Party Breakdown: This was a pure party line vote, with all Democrats voting YES and all Republicans voting NO.  One Texas Republican was not present for the vote.

MoCTrack Editor’s Note – This reconciliation process is still ongoing, and we will continue to track the amendments and votes related to the COVID Relief bill as it moves through Congress.

The Senate Democrats finally have their gavels

Senate Action on S.Res.27 – A resolution relative to Senate procedure in the 117th Congress

After weeks of delay, the Senate has now unanimously passed their rules resolution, which turns the body’s leadership over to New York’s Chuck Schumer, and committee chair positions over to Democrats.  The resolution is nearly identical to the one that governed the Senate in 2001, the last time the chamber was split 50-50.

New Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had attempted to extract a public declaration that the filibuster would be protected as a part of this agreement, but he backed down without that being included in the resolution. The passage of this resolution has led to the announcement of Senate Committee assignments (outlined in this week’s Committee Corner.)

Vote date: Wednesday, February 3, 2021 Vote Tally: unanimous

Party Breakdown: This measure was “submitted in the Senate, considered, and agreed to without amendment by Unanimous Consent.”

Additional Reading:

As this measure passed via unanimous consent, it had the approval of both Senator Casey and Senator Toomey

Qanon MoC stripped of Committee Assignments 

House Vote on H.Res. 72: Removing a certain Member from certain standing committees of the House of Representatives

Marjorie Taylor Greene represents a very white and very Republican district in Georgia.  She is a Qanon adherent, and has expressed a number of antisemtic sentiments, alongside having advocated the murder of Nancy Pelosi, and having said multiple times that several school mass shootings were faked to put pressure on gun owners.  Despite this, the Republican House leadership chose her to serve on the Education Committee as well as the Budget Committee.

Democrats gave the Republican caucus 72 hours to take care of this untenable situation. When they did nothing, Democrats had it brought to the floor for a vote of the full House.  Eleven Republicans, including 🔴 PA-01’s Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, crossed party lines to vote with the Democrats to remove Marjorie Taylor Greene from her committees.

Vote date: Thursday, February 4, 2021 Vote Tally: 230-199

Party Breakdown: All Democrats present voted YES, along with 11 Republicans, including 🔴 PA-01’s Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick. The 199 NO votes were all from Republicans. 

Additional Reading:

Fines to be levied on MoCs who avoid metal detectors (to bring guns onto the Floor)

House Vote on H.Res. 85: Providing for consideration of the bill… and for other purposes (other purposes including adoption of H.Res. 73 – Providing the Sergeant-at-Arms with the authority to fine Members, Delegates, or the Resident Commissioner for failure to complete security screening for entrance to the House Chamber).

The maneuver used to pass this bill is a bit complex. This resolution – H.Res. 85 – set the terms for the coming debate on the apprenticeship bill, H.R. 447. But tucked into the resolution text was also a line that stated “Sec. 7. House Resolution 73 is hereby adopted.”

If we then go to House Resolution 73, we can see that it is designed to fine lawmakers for bypassing the metal detectors set up at entrances to the House Floor.  A first offense is set at $5,000 and repeat offences will cost $10,000.  An additional section on that resolution indicates that lawmakers cannot use campaign funds to pay these fines and they will be deducted directly from the lawmaker’s pay.

Two lawmakers have already been fined.

Vote date: Tuesday, February 2, 2021 Vote Tally: 216-210

Party Breakdown: All The Republicans present voted NO. They were joined by 3 Democrats – Ed Case of Hawaii, Jared Golden of Maine and Kurt Schrader of Oregon. The remaining 216 Democrats voted YES.

Additional Reading:

GOP Reps Gohmert, Clyde Fined $5,000 For Evading House Metal Detectors,” from Forbes

The House moves to update Apprenticeship Programs 

House Vote on H.R. 447: National Apprenticeship Act of 2021

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer did such a good job of outlining the contents of this bill in his floor speech, that we’ll leave the recapping to him:

This bill would update programs created under the original National Apprenticeship Act for the twenty-first century, promoting greater diversity in apprenticeships and boosting women’s participation, which right now is only at 10%.  It would permanently authorize the Labor Department’s Office of Apprenticeship and charge it with building new partnerships among labor unions, educational institutions, and industry to launch new apprenticeship tracks from classrooms and training centers into full-time jobs.  

Furthermore, it would codify standards for registered apprenticeships, pre-apprenticeship programs, and youth apprenticeships so that they meet common high benchmarks.  This legislation also invests more than $3 billion over the next five years to create nearly a million additional apprenticeship opportunities through the National Apprenticeship System, where apprentices earn an average of $15 an hour during their program through registered apprenticeships.  This will not only provide a great benefit to our economy; it will also have a positive effect on our deficits, with $10.6 billion saved through increased tax revenues and lower spending on public-assistance programs and unemployment insurance. 

Vote date: Friday, February 5, 2021 Vote Tally: 247-143

Party Breakdown: All of the Democrats voted YES, along with 28 Republicans.  There were 173 Republicans who voted NO.

Additional Reading:

Biden Cabinet Nominee #5 – Homeland Security

Senate Confirmation Vote on Alejandro Nicholas Mayorkas to be Secretary of Homeland Security

Alejandro Mayorkas is a former Obama Administration leader, who served first as the director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and then as deputy director of the Department of Homeland Security. His confirmation process has been the most difficult thus far for Biden Administration nominees. Two issues that were at the root of GOP objections were Mayorkas’ assertion that he supports President Biden’s objections to the continued construction of the southern border wall, as well as his support for an immigration reform package with a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.  This causes Missouri Senator (and insurrectionist-buddy) Josh Hawley to attempt to stall this nomination in the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

The Hill reports that Hawley’s action “was controversial, angering not just Democrats but former DHS secretaries on both sides of the aisle who saw swift confirmation as critical while the U.S. is confronting several emergencies.”  It prompted George W. Bush’s Secretary of Homeland Security to observe that, “the tradition has been, understandably, that national security positions within the incoming administration are confirmed on the day of the Inauguration.” Hawley’s actions got in the way of that tradition. 

Vote date: Tuesday, February 2, 2021 Vote Tally: 56-43

Party Breakdown: All of the Democrats and Independents voted YES, along with 6 Republicas.  The remaining 43 Republicans voted NO.

Additional Reading:

Senator Casey voted YES and Senator Toomey did not vote

Biden Cabinet Nominee #6 – Transportation

Senate Confirmation Vote on Peter Paul Montgomery Buttigieg to be Secretary of Transportation

After the extended 2020 presidential campaign season, I think everyone who reads MoCTrack is more than familiar with Mayor Pete. Instead, let’s look at a piece of what our new Secretary of Transportation said as he started his new job:

“I know that, at its best, transportation makes the American Dream possible, getting people and goods to where they need to be — and directly and indirectly creating good-paying jobs,” he said. “We also must recognize that at their worst, misguided policies and missed opportunities can reinforce racial and economic inequality, dividing or isolating neighborhoods, undermining the government’s basic role of empowering Americans to thrive.”

“The legacy of American transportation can be both weighty and inspiring — and its future is of fundamental national importance,” Buttigieg told employees. “Here’s to all that’s ahead.”

Vote date: Tuesday, February 2, 2021 Vote Tally: 86-13

Party Breakdown: The YES votes came from all 48 Democrats, the 2 Independents and 36 Republicans. All 13 NO votes came from Republicans, including many from the insurrectionist-pal side of the party.

Additional Reading:

Senator Casey voted YES and Senator Toomey did not vote

Unanimously passed legislation

The following bills were passed through unanimous consent or voice vote (which presumes unanimity, as any member can object to the voice vote and ask for a roll call). This list excludes bills related to post offices, stamps, memorials, awareness weeks and other apolitical, ceremonial activities.

  • H.Con.Res.10 – Permitting the remains of the late United States Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick to lie in honor in the rotunda of the Capitol
  • S.Res.28 – A resolution to constitute the majority party’s membership on certain committees for the One Hundred Seventeenth Congress, or until their successors are chosen
  • S.Res.29 – A resolution electing Sonceria Ann Berry as Secretary of the Senate
  • S.Res.30 – A resolution to amend S. Res. 458 of the Ninety-eighth Congress, as amended
  • S.Res.32 – A resolution to constitute the minority party’s membership on certain committees for the One Hundred Seventeenth Congress, or until their successors are chosen

Quotes of Interest

Senate Tweets

🔵 Senator Bob Casey, @SenBobCasey, 02/04/21:

“Gun violence destroys lives.”  Aleida Garcia lives in Philadelphia.

Her son, Alejandro Rojas Garcia, was shot and killed on Jan. 24, 2015.

We must do more to support survivors like Aleida. My bill with @RepDwightEvans is a critical first step. #NationalGunViolenceSurvivorsWeek

.@RepDwightEvans and I will soon be reintroducing our bill, Resources for Victims of Gun Violence Act, to help families and communities have the support they need to recover from daily gun violence and manage their long term needs. This is simply commonsense gun violence reform.

As Aleida said, “Often survivors of gun violence don’t know where to turn for support.”  This bill “would provide a bridge to resources for survivors, grieving families and communities on their long journey of healing.”

🔴 Senator Pat Toomey, @SenToomey, 02/04/21:

The senator retweeted content from @SRCC that quoted him from the reconciliation vote-o-rama –  “SEN. TOOMEY on his amendment: It is past time to put an end to dangerous sanctuary city policies. These policies make it harder to stop illegal immigration and keep dangerous criminals off the streets. This is simply inexcusable & I urge my colleagues to help pass this measure.”

House Tweets

🔴 PA-01’s Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, @RepBrianFitz, 02/05/21:

“Today, while larger negotiations on COVID relief continue, the bipartisan @ProbSolveCaucus called on Congress for an immediate vote on our $160 billion “Defeating Covid-19” vaccindistribution package. We do not have time to spare.”

🔵 PA-02’s Rep. Brendan Boyle, @RepBrendanBoyle, 02/06/21:

“Between votes I was walking through the Capitol and noticed this window. It’s the door that leads right to the Capitol Rotunda. A vivid reminder the insurrection was just 1 month ago.”

🔵 PA-03’s Rep. Dwight Evans, @RepDwightEvans, 02/05/21:

“I’m supporting @RepThompson’s reintroduced GREEN Act, which includes a provision the late Rep. John Lewis & I co-led to advance environmental justice using tax credits for research and other academic programs: LINK

🔵 PA-04’s Rep. Madeleine Dean, @RepDean, 02/04/21:

“I am voting yes to remove Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from her committee assignments. It is sickening that the GOP continues to stand by her and the hateful and dangerous rhetoric she spreads.

Poisonous bigotry, applauding insurrectionists, and causing families to relive the trauma of school shootings — all have shown she is unfit. 

We must choose morals and truth over falsehoods.

Every. Single. Day.”

🔵 PA-05’s Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, @RepMGS, 02/04/21:

“Grateful to my colleague @AOC for yielding me time tonight on the floor to read the open letter from Congressional staff to the Senate, detailing their experience from the 1/6 attack, into the official record.  Read their letter here

🔵 PA-06’s Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, @RepHoulahan, 02/05/21:

“I am proud to again cosponsor the #PaycheckFairnessAct to combat pay discrimination, but I wish I didn’t have to – equal pay for equal work should be settled law. And until it is, every elected leader should step up and do what’s right by working women across this country.”

🔵 PA-07’s Rep. Susan Wild, @RepSusanWild, 02/05/21:

“This pandemic has shown that we can’t put a price on healthy families. I’m continuing the fight for #PaidLeave because I never want #PA07 to choose between caring for their family and making ends meet.  That’s why I’m proud to support the reintroduction of the #FAMILYAct.”

🔵 PA-08’s Rep. Matt Cartwright, @RepCartwright, 02/03/21:

“Raising the wage will provide a long overdue boost for 101,000 NEPA residents – 32% of the district’s workforce. It’s time workers have a fair shot at providing for themselves and their family. That’s why we have to #RaisetheWage.”

🔴 PA-09’s Rep. Dan Meuser, @RepMeuser, 02/05/21:

“Yesterday, I participated in my first hearing as a member of the @HSBCgop. As the Republican Leader of the Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax and Capital Access, I will fight for small businesses, many of which have suffered from arbitrary lockdowns over the past year.”

🔴 PA-10’s Rep. Scott Perry, @RepScottPerry, has not tweeted since the insurrection.

🔴 PA-11’s Rep. Lloyd Smucker, @RepSmucker, 02/05/21:

“Democrats are more interested in protecting labor union bosses than they are in helping the 94% of the private sector workforce that is not unionized, or in helping the millions who are not able to find a job at all.”

🔴 PA-12’s Rep. Fred Keller, @RepFredKeller, 02/05/21:

“If America is not financially stable and actively working to reduce our $27 trillion debt, we won’t be in a position to help anyone in the long term.”

🔴 PA-13’s Rep. John Joyce, @RepJohnJoyce, 02/02/21:

“There is no doubt that Huawei, a pawn of the #CCP, is a threat to our national security. The Senate should hold on Gov. Raimondo’s confirmation until the Biden Administration clarifies its intentions for Huawei and the Chinese Communist Party.”

🔴 PA-14’s Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, @GReschenthaler, 02/07/21:

“If you go to church on Sunday, if you shop at Walmart, if you eat at Cracker Barrel, or if you like to go hunting, the elitist left has extreme disdain for you and the politicians you support.”

🔴 PA-15’s Rep. Glenn W. Thompson, @CongressmanGT, 02/05/21:

“On the Floor to speak in opposition of H.R. 447 National Apprenticeship Act.  As a leading advocate for #apprenticeships and Career & Technical Education I am sad House Democrats are advancing a partisan bill that fails to recognize & fund innovation for a modern workforce #CTE”

🔴 PA-16’s Rep. Mike Kelly, @MikeKellyPA, 02/03/21:

“Americans need their Representatives to stand against the destructive economic policies of the radical left and hold the Biden Administration accountable. I will fight for conservative tax policy that provides opportunity for working men and women throughout America.”

🔵 PA-17’s Rep. Conor Lamb, @RepConorLamb, 02/05/21:

“Today the House passed the National Apprenticeship Act to create 1 million new apprenticeship opportunities over the next 5 years, and included a bipartisan amendment I led to ensure veterans can take advantage of these apprenticeships. #PA17”

🔵 PA-18’s Rep. Mike Doyle, @USRepMikeDoyle, 02/06/21:

“This tweet is for all those folks who downplay the #pandemic, refuse to #WearAMask, and claim #COVID is no big deal. #COVID19 is currently the number one killer in the United States. We can end this #pandemic & save more lives IF we all work together!”

One article, two Senators, and two opinions on the COVID Relief package

Courtesy of contributor Linda Houk

From Bob Casey

“President Biden proposed big, bold legislation to help Americans recover from the far-reaching effects of our public health and economic crises… The pandemic has revealed how much work we need to do to bolster our infrastructure and expand broadband in Pennsylvania and across the country. Congress has a responsibility to help our communities build back better, and that includes making safe and efficient transportation and high-speed internet, among other priorities, accessible to all.”

—from an article in the Meadville Tribune, titled “Toomey resists calls for more COVID relief

From Pat Toomey

“It looks like a whole lot more of what we just did,” in the last round of COVID relief passed in December… Most of this money hasn’t been spent yet. I don’t think there’s a good case for redoing this.”

“I firmly believe we should be doing everything we can to get vaccine into arms… If an obstacle is money, I’m open to that.”

— from an article in the Meadville Tribune, titled “Toomey resists calls for more COVID relief

Fitzpatrick in the News 

Research provided by contributor CC

“Our Arctic Refuge is a national treasure, and it is imperative for us to protect it. I am glad to once again co-lead The Arctic Refuge Protection Act this Congress because taking care of our environment should not be a political issue.” 

— from a 02/05/21 article in the Bucks County Courier Times titled “PennEnvironment lauds Fitzpatrick push for Arctic preservation” (which, no surprise, failed to provide the context that Congressman Fitzpatrick has voted in the past to allow the energy exploitation and drilling in the same area of the arctic)

“QAnon and the ideas it promotes are fringe theories that are dangerous to our society. I will always condemn any group on the right or left that is fueled by hate, seeks to undermine our democratic institutions, or commits acts of violence. These kinds of views have no place in our political discourse, and I was happy to see the House overwhelmingly vote to condemn QAnon.” 

— a quote from last fall, repeated in a 02/04/21 Levittown Now article titled “Congressman Fitzpatrick Votes To Remove Conspiracy Theorist Congresswoman From Committees” 

“Our heroic veterans have sacrificed so much to serve and keep our country safe. No veteran should have to pay out of pocket for COVID-19 preventive services when using VA benefits.” 

— from a 02/02/21 Ripon Advance blog post titled “Fitzpatrick proposes bipartisan No Coronavirus Copays for Veterans Act” 

“Our federal firefighters and federal law enforcement officers, especially those injured on the job, should not be penalized and deprived of the retirement security they have earned. Our federal first responders deserve our full support for their public service.” 

— from a 02/01/21 article in Federal Computer Week titled “New bill looks to close retirement loophole for injured federal first responders

“Our independent, local restaurants continue to be hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Forced to continuously reimagine operations in response to each new, ambiguous state dining restriction thrown their way, and often limited to utilizing solely take-out and delivery services, many family-operated restaurants in my community and across our great nation have lost thousands of dollars in potential income and have resorted to unprecedented adaptive measures. The mom and pop diners and delis on Main Street need our help. Our bipartisan, bicameral RESTAURANTS ACT will provide local businesses and their hardworking employees with the hope and support to survive this pandemic.” 

— from a 02/05/21 article in Y’all Politics titled “Wicker, Sinema, Blumenauer, Fitzpatrick Introduce the RESTAURANTS Act”  

“Unlike many other businesses financially impacted by the pandemic, health and fitness clubs did not have the capability to pivot to new revenue streams, and many even failed to qualify for assistance in the first CARES Act. Beyond providing assistance to business owners and workers, it is imperative we allow people the opportunity to maintain and improve their health as the pandemic continues on.” 

— from a 02/05/21 article in the Morning Chalk-Up titled “Bipartisan Legislation Introduced to Offer Gyms $30 Billion in Economic Relief

Featured Sections

Committee Corner

The passage of a cluster of resolutions this week gave us more information about the committee assignments for both our Senators and Representatives in this 117th Congress.  There was a surprise!  If you need a reminder of what we knew at the close of last week, visit the 01.31.21 Committee Corner

🔵 Senator Bob Casey (per S.Res.28):

Committee on Finance

Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions

Special Committee on Aging, as Chairperson

Select Committee on Intelligence – this was the surprise! A position on the Intelligence Committee gives lawmakers access to classified information to which most lawmakers do not have access. Your MoCTrack editor interprets this as an acknowledgement of both the advisory role that Senator Casey has played in respect to President Biden, and it also enables him to continue in that role.

🔴 Senator Pat Toomey (per S.Res.32):

Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs

Committee on Finance

Committee on the Budget

🔴 PA-11’s Rep. Lloyd Smucker (per H.Res.95) was put into a leadership position on the Budget Committee, “to rank immediately after Mr. Grothman”

Learning about Legislation – the Senate Parliamentarian and Reconciliation

There is an unelected staff member of the Senate who has the power to assess the contents of the COVID Relief bill that is under negotiation right now. That person is the Senate Parliamentarian.

The rules, regulations and customs in the Senate are a dense tangle of precedent and parliamentary procedure.  It is so complex that the Senate has an “Office of the Parliamentarian of the United States Senate,” where a small staff of employees works to advise the presiding senator of correct procedure.  There is always a parliamentary staff member on hand to provide advice.  From the position’s creation until 1949 there was only one parliamentarian, and that poor man was once called upon to stay in the senate for a filibuster that lasted 48 hours. That unlucky gentleman, Charlie Wilkins, undertook a massive review of the Congressional Record dating back a number of decades, and was the first person to compile a register of Senate procedures.  A book based on his research, Riddick’s Senate Procedure, is still in use today.  When a Parliamentarian rules on appropriate procedure, it is within the rights of the presiding Senator to disregard that advice, but it is perishingly rare.  The last time a Parliamentarian’s ruling was set aside was in 1975.

The current Senate Parliamentarian is Attorney Elizabeth MacDonough, who has held the position since 2012.  Prior to her appointment to the head of the department, she worked in the Senate Parliamentarian’s office since 1999.  

The parliamentarian often has to determine if a proposed piece of legislation can be passed by “reconciliation” procedures.  In the 1970s a new process was created to allow bills related to finance and spending (like budgets and debt limit bills) to pass via a simple majority, without giving the opposition party any ability to filibuster them.  The limit on this process is that the parliamentarian decides whether the bill is indeed strictly spending related, or if it contains prohibited policy content. 

Call to Action – Call Senator Toomey about Impeachment 

The impeachment trial in the Senate starts this week.  So it is a perfect time to call one of Senator Toomey’s offices (or all of them) to let him know exactly how you feel about insurrection, sedition, rule of law, and making sure that future presidents know that transgressions against democracy will be dealt with by the legislative branch, regardless of party politics.

Senator Toomey’s phone numbers Toomey’s website contact form

Washington DC – (202) 224-4254​

​Allentown –  (855) 552-1831​

​Erie – (814) 453-3010​ Toomey’s official Twitter

Harrisburg – (717) 782-3951​

​Johnstown – (814) 266-5970​

Philadelphia – (215) 241-1090​ Toomey’s Facebook page

Pittsburgh – (412) 803-3501​

Wilkes-Barre – ​(570) 820-4088​

This report is brought to you by the Pennsylvania  MoCTrack team… 

CC Linda Houk

Gary Garb Kierstyn Piotrowski Zolfo We like to use the start of a new Congress to try out new things and change the report around a bit. For this 117th Congress we are aiming for a tighter, shorter but more info-packed report.  If you like the changes or miss an old section, do let us know! Please email and put “MoCTrack Comments” in the subject. Thanks!

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